Archived Story

Dowagiac student arraigned, bond set at $100K

Published 5:51pm Thursday, September 20, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — A 17-year-old Dowagiac Union High School junior is facing five felony and three misdemeanors counts after police found guns, ammunition and a knife in his vehicle on school property Wednesday.

Phillip Kocsis

Phillip James Edward Kocsis was arraigned Thursday in Cass County District Court on the eight charges, including carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, which carries a five-year prison sentence.

Judge Stacey Rentfrow set bail for Kocsis at $100,000 at the request of Prosecutor Victor Fitz, who told the court Kocsis had brought at least two firearms to school on multiple occasions — not just the day he was caught.

“In this day and age anyone bringing weapons to school … it is an extremely dangerous situation as we know from terrible tragedies that have occurred throughout this country,” Fitz said.

According to Dowagiac Police Chief Tom Atkinson, Ryan Murray, school resource officer, received a tip around 9 a.m. Wednesday. Murray was attending a training session out of town at the time he received the tip. He then contacted Dowagiac police.

Officers responded with assistance from the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team, which is made up of Dowagiac and Cass County officers, and made contact with Kocsis. Atkinson estimates it took less than 45 minutes after receiving the tip to contact the student and secure the weapons. An M1 carbine, 12-gauge shotgun, Ka-Bar knife and ammunition were found in Kocsis’ vehicle Wednesday, Fitz said.

Many parents questioned why the school did not notify them of the incident Wednesday, to which Atkinson said it was his understanding that Supt. Mark Daniel sent letters home.

“I have not seen one and it is my understanding that he had (sent letters to parents),” Atkinson said. “We work directly with the administration.”

In the courtroom, Fitz described a situation Tuesday in the parking lot where Kocsis threatened to shoot anyone that touched him or his truck after a classmate told Kocsis he needed to get a parking pass for his vehicle.

“Not only did he say these words, your honor,” Fitz said, “he said them in a heated fashion.”

Kocsis then began moving to the vehicle in “an angry state,” prompting a classmate to stop him from getting to the vehicle, Fitz told the court.

Fitz said classmates described Kocsis as having “mood swings” and a “very short fuse” in the past several days. Fitz also said Kocsis disregarded a direct order from his father not to bring guns to school in his vehicle in the days leading up to the incident.

The court also heard Kocsis checked out a book called “Blank Confession” from the school library within the past two weeks. The book, Fitz said, was about a student that shot other people after being bullied.

“In light of the other circumstances, it creates great concern,” Fitz said.

Vicky Kocsis, the defendant’s mother, declined to answer questions but did say, “It’s not true.”

DUHS administrators answered calls Thursday stating that any inquiries about the situation are to be directed to Daniel. Phone calls to Daniel’s office were not immediately returned.

Kocsis turned 17 on Sept. 18, one day before he was arrested on the charges. His next court appearances have been scheduled for Oct. 2 and Oct. 3.

Kocsis is charged with three felony counts of carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, two felony firearm counts and three misdemeanor counts of possessing a weapon in a weapon-free school zone.

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  • Nick Stull

    Why didn’t his father remove the guns, or make sure the guns were out of the vehicle and in the house himself? I’m sure every year the school makes it’s policies clear. None the less, no matter if there was intent or just an absent mind and forgot to remove the weapons, it is a tragedy for the family.

    • jason weber

      i grew up my whole life with phil he was always target practicing and shooting trap it was a flat out accident

      • Beck

        How was it an accident when he threaten other students? He is 17, he should know better! There’s no excuse to have guns on school property, personally if he isn’t responsible enough to take proper care of them then he’s not responsible enough to handle them. I’m very thankful for the way it was handled and no one was hurt.

        • Bl

          He didn’t threaten kids!! That is an example of how the media & people spread lies!!! Yikes people he’s a good kid!!

        • vicky

          How do you know he threatened anyone?

          • Citolduso

            How do you know he didn’t? It was in the police report.

          • vicky

            This is a comment to the Oct.1st reply. If you knew what was in the police report on or before Oct. 1st. That’s darn good or you from the prosecuter’s office! Attorney’s could not get it until the 1st. You commented at 846 am. Interesting!!

  • jason weber

    i grw up with phil and h would nvr hurt anyon in that mannr and always was short fusd and was bullied on a everyday bases.

  • Kenneth Antisdel

    So who is really responsible here?

    • vicky

      Guns should not be on school grounds. An accidental over site.! To dramatize and embellishe is ridiculous! The truth will prevail!!

      • bust

        Blah blah blah

  • bust

    Looks like this kids going to be made an example of, just in time for elections too. I doubt this kids intentions were that of columbine, but I guess that doesn’t matter, his parents must not be a part of the wealthy upstanding dowagiac elite.

  • BT

    Very disturbed kid.
    prison will only make him worse. He needs hospitalization and treatment (for a loooooong time).

    His father ‘told’ him not to take guns to school?? Duh. Why did the kid have access to them in the first place?

    • Chad

      And you know this how?

      • Chad

        Oh yeah…. because the news said so.

    • vicky

      Very disturbed kid? Really do you know him? Are you a psyhcologist? If you do not know the facts please refrain from commenting in that fashion. Have respect for the family.

  • heather

    I think there is more to this story than a mere oversight. Considering he had these weapons in his vehicle for over a week, threatened to shoot and kill another student, and recently checked out a book that reads about a child that is bullied and kills his ‘bullier’ it looks like his intentions may have
    been other than a simple oversight. One can never know what goes through another’s mind. I sincerely hope he gets the help he needs.

  • tami davis

    And if there were other kids harassing him in the first place, shouldn’t charges be brought against them also???? Too much bullying going on now days!!!

  • Brit

    This kid shoots trap and is in shooting competitions. Simple accident of leaving them in the TRUNK of the car and UNASSEMBLED. He couldn’t have easily shot anyone with them UNASSEMBLED. People are just running their mouths (probably the bullies themselves spreading this crazy info of him having “mood swings” omg what teenager doesn’t have mood swings) Also, if he really was being bullied, what is going to happen to the bullies??? Now, they won’t get caught & cause hate & discontent onto others.

  • Nick Stull

    You don’t shoot trap with an M1 and what is legal to hunt with an M1 in southern Michigan? There is no reason for guns on school grounds. PERIOD! You can’t buy rifles or shotguns until 18 in Michigan, but not sure about the age to be able to transport. I urge everyone who has issues with this, go to court, see the evidence that is presented. How was he being bullied by being told he needed a parking permit? Another thing I’m sure they let the students know. Ignorance is no excuse. He is not above the law!

    • Brit

      shooting competitions…. M1 is obviously not a hunting gun….duhhh. If you don’t know, it is an old WWII gun. When you go to shoot outs, people love seeing, handling, and shooting older guns. Yes, guns shouldn’t be brought to school property. It looks better to have a disassembled, unloaded shot gun in a trunk as an accident, than it would to have a loaded pistol. I’m one of those to look at both sides, not just the prosecution’s side. I honestly don’t think there was any intent to go on a shooting spree.

    • Citolduso

      Everything except waterfowl and deer can be hunted with an m1. Know the law before you comment.

  • Nick Stull

    In the state of Michigan you have to be 18 to transport shotguns or rifles. 21 for hand guns. Why did his dad allow this to happen? If they are big hunters, they should have known the laws, or do they feel the laws don’t apply to them? If my kids went to Dowagiac High, I’d be really unhappy right now. No one really knows what was going on in this kids head.

  • Kellie

    what’s really sad is i know this child and his family well… he is not distruebed or anything to that manner is a 17 yr old boy!!! and if you know a 17yr that isnt moody than you have found a miracle…. all this bullying crap is just that crap!! people are running their mouths trying to get their 5 min of fame…. phil was not bullied and he wouldnt hurt anyone…. they are making an example of him and blowing everyhthing way out of the water… yes he should not have had the guns at school and he knows this and has sad it was a horrible mistake… im sorry have any of you made a mistake??? if not ill hand you a stone… get of this kids butt and if anything expel him from school

    • Kris Dawkins

      My heart goes out to his family and to him, but the law is
      the law.I completely agree that it has been blowen out of
      proportion.This poor choice will now effect the rest of his life.I have met him and his mother and he seemed to be a really good KID,I stress kid because that is what he is,and I hope the courts will take that into account.

  • Danielle

    As a DUHS parent I am (and have been) concerned about this book that is available for impressionable kids to read. I believe in grace so I will not comment on the happenings of last week, our community has had some tough days lately and my prayers are many at this time.

  • Drew Rosander

    Why do they pounce so hard on these kids who are obviously not the aggresors. I would wager that this kid gets fucked with constantly, what kind of fellow student gives another kid shit for not having a parking pass?? The issue is faculty not stopping others from treating easy targets so terribly. I happen to have had a little brother who committed suicide in reaction to consistent mean and evil bullying since I can remember. If he would have taken out the dozen or so fuckheads that ruined his life for over a decade, I would have felt no sorrow.

  • sharon

    dowagiac has a long way to go on this bulling thing,i have a grandson bullied since he was in 6th grade the staff and teachers do not even take an interest in stopping it because of the elite do no wrong maybe if there sued a couple time .THE ELITE will pay the fine NOT GONA HAPPEN. just a parking pass my my and i bet he knew he was a hunter and scared for his life because his bulling him GUILT

  • Tw

    Bottom line, guns on school property accident or otherwise is a federal offense. Bullying is also wrong, when I was younger we settled with our fists, not knives and guns. I would never ask for this young man to be out away in prison, he may need counseling. Every school says they are tough in bullying, but they are not, also it takes more than one voice sometimes to bring it to light. It sucks, but that is the truth if the world we live in.

  • inmate

    This innocent individual was questioned in the jail without ever being mirandised… and a psychologist was trying to ask him questions in front of several of us inmates in booking, as well as several jail staff in and around while he was being questioned. The family and attorney should subpoena all of us who were in booking at the time as witnesses… they did not ever read us our rights until a jail guard by the name of deputy Bradley brung us a paper to sign with the miranda rights on it and told us all that we could not be arraigned unless we signed the paper. This jail physically assaulted an offender before all of our eyes and on camera the mornin of this incident in booking as well. Someone from the media needs to obtain the booking tapes from Sept. 19th 2012, under the Freedom of Information Act… from 5am to around 10am… these cops in cass county are good at violating civil rights… I mean they were waiting for this inmate to arrive at the jail and put rubber gloves on before the guy even came into booking the guy did everything they said and several cops continued to talk smack to the guy and took his arms and slammed this man on his face. This man asked for medics to be called and the cops put him in a cell and threatened to taser him when he asked for medical help. The jail staff will not allow any of us inmates to exercise and the food rations are very very bad here. The captain and jail staff sit on the computer right in front of the holding cell on google looking at vacation sites and anderson seed corn pricing and ordering while they ignore phone calls to booking and ignore peoples obvious medical and legal needs intentionally.

  • karen grimm

    I know for a fact the police put what ever they want into a police report even if it wasn’t said or done. had it happen to someone in our family. plus what is the school doing about the kids who bullied this kid to make him want to bring guns to school??? the bullies need to be expelled also.
    i am not saying this kid is not responsible for his actions, but find out why he did this. the bulling needs to stop!!!!

  • vicky

    How can another student get caught in school grounds with a gun and not get arrested? How come no one is talking about that?

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